Operators approve Wireless Broadband Alliance interoperability compliance program for global Wi-Fi roaming

February 20, 2013 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has announced that several of the world’s largest operators including AT&T, Boingo Wireless, BT, China Mobile, KT, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Portugal Telecom, PCCW, Shaw Communications and True have participated in network assessments for the WBA’s Interoperability Compliance Program (ICP).

The aim of this initiative is to streamline the way WBA members work together on a common set of technical and commercial frameworks for Wi-Fi roaming. The program is now open to all the WBA’s operator members.

Operators have been extremely receptive to this new program as it will make it easier for them to enter into roaming agreements with each other. By promoting and advocating a common set of requirements and procedures for Wi-Fi roaming, carriers will better understand how to integrate their networks to support roaming with greater consistency and efficiency.

Following the initial launch of the ICP in December, operators conducted a self-assessment analysis to gauge the quality of various network characteristics including: authentication, network discovery and selection, network access security, data clearing/settlement, customer support, information exchange and charging models, to ultimately deduce the readiness of their own network for Wi-Fi roaming.

As a result of the ICP, the WBA has been able to create a set of compliance guidelines, offering different support levels to operators. These range from simple integration requirements for roaming partners, to delivering support for the latest in session security, to more complex charging models and billing mechanisms required for the implementation of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH).

Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, said: “Many wireless operators have come to see public Wi-Fi as an essential component for mobile connectivity. However, there have been inconsistencies in the way devices connect to and roam on to Wi-Fi networks. This program offers a solution as it enables operators to work together and make improvements to their own networks in order to ultimately deliver a more consistent roaming experience. After only a few months, ICP has proven a big hit with the operators involved and has now been opened up to our wider membership.”

In parallel with the ICP, the WBA is continuing its advanced trials of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) which will give users easier